Stacy Bierlien isn’t new to the literary scene. A southern Californian, she edited the award-winning anthology “A Stranger Among Us: Stories of Cross Cultural Collision and Connection,” and co-edited “Men Undressed: Female Writers and the Male Sexual Experience.” She is a founding editor of the independent press Other Voices Books, and co-creator of the Morgan Street International Novel Series. Her articles about writing, publishing and the arts appear on various websites.

Stacy Bierlien isn’t new to the literary scene. A southern Californian, she edited the award-winning anthology “A Stranger Among Us: Stories of Cross Cultural Collision and Connection,” and co-edited “Men Undressed: Female Writers and the Male Sexual Experience.” She is a founding editor of the independent press Other Voices Books, and co-creator of the Morgan Street International Novel Series. Her articles about writing, publishing and the arts appear on various websites.


In her debut book “A Vacation on the Island of Ex-boyfriends,” a collection of delightful short stories, Stacy serves up the ever-present reminder that love is never guaranteed, there is danger in surrendering our hearts, and sometimes the leap of faith is off a cliff. But Stacy also reminds us that sometimes that leap can land us where we were meant to be all along, and the trip can be well worth the fall.


http://www.erpmedia.net/books/AVacation.html


Q. Why debut with a short story collection and not a novel?


A. I have always preferred short fiction, as both a reader and a writer. I like the challenge of the short story — the quest to achieve the emotional range of a novel but in less than 10,000 words. I like the precision and control a writer needs in shorter works. It makes perfect sense to me that many of our finest contemporary poets write stunning short fiction, and vice versa. One needs to slow down, to fine tune. Novel writing requires a certain bravery and momentum that I’m not sure I have ever been able to sustain, although certainly I would like to try. Novel writing is a longer journey into the unknown. 


Q. For an author, “published” can be a blindfolded roller coaster ride. Coming from the “unseen” side of publishing – editing - is being a published author what you expected?


A. Publishing is a difficult business from all sides, and I suspect it is easier for writers to keep realistic expectations when they have previously experienced this in some way. We have all seen truly brilliant books receive very little attention — for any number of reasons sometimes beyond the writer’s control, like neglected publicity efforts or poor distribution — and basically disappear. At the same time we see books that are rushed to print without proper editorial support, books that aren’t quite there yet, hitting bookstore shelves and managing to do notably well in spite of their failings. In my case, I feel proud of my work and my publisher’s enthusiasm for it and that’s really the very basic formula one hopes to have. From there anything can happen. On a blindfolded roller coaster ride you cannot be sure if your car is slowing to come to a stop or to shoot into some kind of crazy upside-down whirl.


Q. What inspired this collection of short stories?


A. For years it seemed that my closest friends were embarking on definitive journeys — both literal and emotional ones. I wanted to get both the beauty and uncertainty of those moments onto the page. I also wanted to describe accurately the intensity of female friendships. I am surprised by how seldom I encounter deep female friendships in literary fiction. As a culture, we tend to leave this arena to genre fiction and television writing. When I described my need to get onto the page the language female friends use when alone with one another, a friend told me, “Oh honey, ‘Sex and the City’ has already done that.” I thought “Sex and the City” was daring and often lovely, but I didn’t think it was showing us the true way women speak to each other. I thought it was how a team of extremely clever television writers wanted New York women to speak to one another. My women had some essential things in common with them but didn’t sound like them exactly.


Q. Much has been said by reviewers (almost all praise-worthy) about your characters and their choices where love is concerned. What was your purpose in creating such a kaleidoscope of characters and international locations?


A. I think I possess more than my fair share of wanderlust. I have always been a traveler and deeply interested in who people are when they are away from home. Likewise I question whether home is really a place at all. Maybe we get that wrong and home is actually another person — at the risk of sounding too precious — a person who really understands your heart. 


Q. What can we expect next from you?


A. I am working on a few things now. I’m writing an essay for TheNervousBreakdown.com on demolition and architecture, a discussion of what we destroy and what we preserve. I’m preparing to interview one of my favorite authors, Josip Novakovich, about his forthcoming essay collection, Shopping for a Better Country, for The Rumpus. I’m also tinkering with a novella that is a modern-day Sleeping Beauty story. Sleeping Beauty wakes up after 100 years of sleep and is seriously pissed off that the first thing she is expected to do is to marry. She is an insomniac now. Of course this is where her real trouble begins … .


DA Kentner is an author and journalist. www.kevad.net